Where to Live in Charleston, SC: Our Top 16 Favorite Neighborhoods
Charleston, South Carolina, may not boost the largest population or tallest skyscrapers, but it’s a city with real character, charm and history. If you’re wondering where to live in Charleston, SC, we’ve got you covered with this comprehensive guide to all of the neighborhoods in historic downtown Charleston and some of the surrounding areas. Whether you’re looking for the perfect beach house for your family or a charming downtown apartment for one, you’ll find some of the most unique properties right here in the Holy City.
Neighborhoods in Historic Downtown Charleston
Unlike larger, more spread-out cities, Charleston’s downtown area is the heart of the action. Everything from eating and partying to business gatherings and art events takes place right in the downtown area, which is why so many people flock the city center when they relocate. Historic downtown Charleston has dozens of beautiful areas to live in, but, of course, the desirability of these areas drives up the price, so be sure to consider both the vibe of the neighborhood and the average price tag on homes in the area.
South of Broad
Speaking of budgets, the South of Broad neighborhood is the most expensive area on the peninsula because of its proximity to the water and the massive mansions that decorate the streets here. If you’re working with a tight budget in mind, you should flip right past these extravagant homes. If extravagance is what you’re searching for, then there is no better area in Charleston than South of Broad. Perhaps the most desirable homes here are located on Murray Blvd., an area locals refer to as “the Battery.” This row of beautiful homes faces out to the harbor with gorgeous views of the water and the Arthur Ravenel Jr. Bridge in the distance. This entire neighborhood makes up the tip of the peninsula from the water to Broad St. and is mainly residential. The nearest shops, restaurants and bars can be found along Broad St.
One of the most popular neighborhoods in downtown Charleston, Harleston Village is adjacent to South of Broad. The neighborhood boundaries extend from Broad St. to Calhoun St. and from Lockwood Blvd. to St. Philip St., nestling this neighborhood within the College of Charleston campus. This area is home to a mix of college students and families as well as some staple Charleston establishments, including the Wentworth Mansion with the exquisite Circa 1886 restaurant inside and more casual stops like Caviar and Bananas or Circe’s Grotto.
A more tourist-heavy section of the downtown area, Ansonborough covers the Market area in addition to other visitor hotspots like Waterfront Park, the rooftop bars at both Market Pavilion and The Vendue and the many other restaurants and bars along East Bay St. Although this may sound like a bustling area on top, the Ansonborough neighborhood itself actually remains extremely quiet because it’s tucked away down narrow, cobblestone streets that lead towards Gadsdenboro Park. Take a walk through this area to enjoy the charm of an old Charleston neighborhood and take a moment to step away from the busy streets of Meeting and East Bay.
As you move up the peninsula, you’ll begin to run into a few different “boroughs,” including Radcliffeborough, which runs from Calhoun St. to Morris St. between King St. and Rutledge Ave. This is what most locals know as party central for the college kids. Students at the College of Charleston tend to move into off-campus apartments after one to two years of dorm life—and Radcliffeborough is where they choose to go. If you’re wondering where to live in Charleston and you’re not interested in the nightlife, this may not be the neighborhood for you. Many parents, however, decide to make an investment purchase and buy a house their child can live in while attending the college. If this is the kind of real estate decision you’re looking to make, Radcliffeborough is the area for college students. It’s a short, easy walk (or ride) to the campus while also remaining close to all the best parts of downtown Charleston.
This small sliver of Charleston, which exists from Calhoun St. to Mary St. between King and East Bay, is a unique spot that has also been referred to as the Garden District. In this area covering just a few blocks, you’ll find an intriguing mix of old historic homes and, as its nickname suggests, beautiful outdoor gardens. The Mazyck-Wraggborough neighborhood encompasses Marion Square, one of the most popular spots in the city to host events–from Fashion Week to the annual Charleston Wine + Food Festival. During the spring, summer and fall, you can also enjoy a weekly Farmers Market in Marion Square with local artisans, farmers and producers bringing their best products to the park each Saturday.
King Street Historic District
Just a narrow sliver down the center of the peninsula, the King Street Historic District doubles as the shopping district, too. This neighborhood runs down King Street and extends on either side to Meeting and St. Philip streets. Here, you’ll find dozens of big name stores and local boutiques as well as some of the best bars and restaurants in the city. This is really where all of the action happens in Charleston, so if you’re able to find a property here, expect to be in the middle of it all.
A very desirable area of town, Cannonborough/Elliotborough is made up of a mixture of college students, young professionals and families. This is considered one of the more affordable spots in historic downtown Charleston and has much to offer in terms of gorgeous traditional architecture and great local eateries and bars. You won’t be too far from King Street when you move to this neighborhood, and you’ll be near coffee shops like 132 Spring, as well as trendy restaurants like the Pink Cactus and Xiao Bao Biscuit.
Considered an up-and-coming area of Charleston, the East Side is located along the eastern side of the peninsula naturally. Many of the homes in this neighborhood possess a long, intriguing history with dozens of examples of traditional Charleston single homes—a particular design unique to the city. When you live on the East Side, you’ll be within walking distance to the Old Cigar Factory, which has been converted into a multi-use building that is now home to a coffee shop known as Mercantile, the next-door whiskey bar called Bar Mash and Rappahannock, a seafood restaurant known for its oysters. From the East Side, you’ll also have easy access to walk the Arthur Ravenel Jr. Bridge and you’re just around the corner from a brand-new olympic swimming pool facility that was just installed in 2020.
On the other side of the peninsula sits the West Side neighborhood, which is conveniently close to the crosstown, making it easy and fast to get off the peninsula in either direction. If you’re looking for somewhere to move in historic downtown Charleston while also being able to hop on the highway at a moment’s notice, the West Side may be the ideal location. This side of town is also home to Joseph P. Riley Jr. Park, the stadium home to the city’s minor league baseball team—the Riverdogs. When you move to the West Side, you’ll also be sharing the neighborhood with a number of top spots in Charleston, including the Recovery Room (the bar known as the number one seller of PBR in the world) and Leon’s Oyster Shop. Make sure you find time to explore them all. Oh, and definitely invest in a tide chart because the streets on this side of town can shockingly flood during storms and high tide.
Hampton Park Terrace
Moving further from the tip of the peninsula, we begin to make our way into the Hampton Park/Wagener Terrace area of the city. Both of these neighborhoods are much more residential than other areas of the city closer to the tip of the peninsula. You’re a short drive or bike ride from the center of Charleston’s nightlife, but not close enough to be reminded of it while you’re having a relaxing night in. Hampton Park itself is right in the middle of this neighborhood, providing you the perfect space to relax, take a walk, host a romantic picnic or exercise outdoors.
If you decide to move to Hampton Park Terrace, you’ll notice these houses have a different style than the traditional Charleston singles seen in other neighborhoods. Hampton Park Terrace and Wagener Terrace are both home to more cottage-style homes, giving the neighborhood its own unique look. Here, you’ll be close to local restaurants like Park Cafe, Herd Provisions and the corner store Torres Superettes—a place where many locals claim you can get some of the most authentic tacos in town.
Adjacent to Hampton Park Terrace, Wagener Terrace is another charming area with similar cottage-style homes and many residential families. For young professionals looking to settle down or newlyweds ready to start a family, this is probably the most desirable neighborhood in the entire city. If you can snag a property here, you’ll love the entire vibe of the neighborhood and the proximity to many of the same perks as Hampton Park Terrace, including the park itself, Park Cafe and Daps breakfast cafe.
The final neighborhood on the peninsula before you begin entering the city of North Charleston, North Central is a very up-and-coming area with new apartment buildings seeming to pop up every day. Residential living here is slim because of the influx of apartment buildings, but if you like living the condo life, you can rent here for a bit while seeking out the right permanent home for you. Sometimes called the neck of the peninsula, the North Central neighborhood is home to breweries like Revelry Brewing and Fatty’s Beer Works, as well as the cafeteria-style food court with rotating offerings of the newest and trendiest culinary pop-ups, starter restaurants or food trucks transitioning into the brick-and-mortar space.
Other Neighborhoods in Charleston
- The Old Village, Mount Pleasant: A neighborhood with property on the pricier side, the Old Village in Mount Pleasant is relatively close to the bridge, making it easy and quick to get downtown. This charming area is where you’ll find gorgeous homes and adorable boutique shops and cafes.
Avondale, West Ashley: Also a short drive to downtown, Avondale is a neighborhood of West Ashley, filled with fun and action. Here, you’ll find yoga studios, shops, restaurants and bars, including the eclectic Voodoo Tiki Bar & Lounge and the oldest running bar in Charleston, Gene’s Haufbrau.
Park Circle, North Charleston: Perhaps the trendiest new neighborhood in Charleston right now, Park Circle is the first neighborhood between downtown Charleston and North Charleston. With an increasing number of developments over the last five years, the neighborhood centers around E. Montague Street, which is lined with shops, restaurants, bars and even a brewery.
- James Island: If you’re a beach bum who wants to stay as close to the beach as possible, James Island is for you. Although the options for fine dining are more limited than downtown, James Island is a short drive into the city and equally as close to Folly Beach.
Find Your New Dream Home
Whether you’re looking for a home in the heart of the action in Charleston or you’d prefer a more quaint, laidback lifestyle in the outskirts of the city, Dunes Properties will help you find the home of your dreams. Moving to historic downtown Charleston is a big decision—but one you won’t regret. The city is filled with culture, history and fantastic weather all year long. So, what are you waiting for? Browse our available properties and imagine yourself in your new, beautiful home.